Every once in a while, I have a really good idea, and this one probably ranks in my top ten all time good ideas. I invented this Joseph Coat of Many Colors Game a few years ago for Vacation Bible School. It could be used for a Sunday School or youth group activity as well. It was a huge hit with the kids of all ages.
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This game is basically an adaptation of the popular game where each team has to create a gown for one of their teammates using only toilet paper. We just used streamers and colored ribbon instead of toilet paper. Each of our groups had a junior high aged helper, so we had the older helper be the model the younger kids had to decorate. We didn’t want any of the smaller kids to fight over which of them got to be the model. If you don’t have older helpers, you could just have the teacher be the model, or you could draw a name from a hat. We gave each of our teams clear tape to use in their fashion design as well.
We bought our streamers at DollarTree, but I’ve noticed Amazon sells streamers in bulk. It may be helpful to order your streamers if you will be hosting a large Vacation Bible School. This VBS was in a very small town, so we just needed a few rolls of each color. The ribbon we used was just the type of ribbon you use on gift packages. Each team should probably have a pair of safety scissors as well. I would not give them pointed scissors because this game can get a little rowdy if you put them on a timer, which is what we did, and everyone is rushing around to finish. We did all of our activities out in the church yard, so these teams could all see the other teams’ work in progress. If you are having your event indoors and have enough classroom space, it might be fun to put each team in a different classroom to see what kind of different fashion creations they develop. We did not have someone judge the best design because the kids just had so much fun playing the game, but sometimes with the toilet paper game, there are judges to pick the best masterpiece.
Another idea we tried to pull off on the night we learned about Joseph and his coat of many colors was a game using water balloons filled with coloring. We had our “big kid” helpers each put on a new white t-shirt over their other clothes. We asked everyone to wear old clothes that night because we knew it would be messy. Then we had water balloons filled with colored dye liquid. The younger kids got to throw the balloons at their “big kid” helper. In theory, this was going to create a beautiful and vibrantly colored t-shirt. It did not work at all. There ended up being very little color in the water.
The process we used to fill the water balloons was terrible. First of all, I used a recipe to make the dye that I found online. People were supposedly using this recipe for the stuff they throw on the runners at those 5K color runs. I don’t remember everything that was in it, but it involved flour, food coloring, and water. It was a mess to mix and even bigger mess to fill the balloons. I didn’t have an easy way to fill the balloons with dye, so my kids and I tried to use recycled two-liter bottles. We filled the bottles with the colored water and then squeezed as much as we could into each balloon. There were several times the air pressure blew the balloons off the top of the two-liter bottles resulting in a balloon flying across my kitchen while spewing the colored water and flour mixture all over everything. We could have filled the balloons easily with the water balloon pumping bottles they sell now. (Edit – After reading this post, my brother kindly pointed out that they now even sell the water balloon pumping bottles with ColorBlast that claim to do exactly what I was trying to do. This product was likely invented by a mom who tried to color-fill water balloons in her kitchen with two-liter bottles.). After a very disastrous few hours, we filled enough balloons for each kid at VBS to throw a few. We were sorely disappointed in the actual game. Most of the little kids couldn’t aim well enough to hit the t-shirt on their “big kid” helper, so most the balloons broke open on the grass a few feet in front of the intended targets. The few balloons that did burst on the t-shirt left very little color on the shirt. You win some. You lose some. That game was a total failure.
We did have several water balloons filled with just water which had also been tied by my kids and myself. We had a big water balloon fight with the regular water balloons, and all the kids loved it, so they didn’t really care about the t-shirt game being a fail. In the end, it was all worth the open blisters on our fingers from tying all those balloons.
Just a word of warning about water balloons – one summer when I was in junior high and my cousin was visiting for a few weeks, she and I bought a pack of 200 water balloons. We sat in my parents’ bathroom with one of us at the sink and one sitting on the edge of the bathtub until we had filled all 200 of those balloons. We had an awesome water balloon war with our siblings. That was around the time that news reports were covering the “flesh-eating virus.” It was the first time in my lifetime that I had ever heard about a flesh-eating virus. About a week into the trip, my cousin noticed that she had started losing the skin on one of her fingers. Then a day later, she was losing skin on another finger. She showed her mom, and her mom was freaking out a little because I think they were living in the state where the flesh-eating virus was first reported. While she was showing her mom, I happened to look at my hands and see that the skin was peeling off of my fingers as well. By that time, both are moms were mildly panicked because whatever virus or bacteria was eating our fingers away seemed to be contagious, since we both had it. They made us put antibiotic ointment on our hands. While we were at the store getting the tube of antibiotic ointment, we bought ourselves another pack of water balloons. It wasn’t until that night when we attempted to fill them that we realized the peeling on our hands was really just blisters from tying all those balloons a couple of days before. My kids and I gave ourselves that same fake “flesh-eating virus” tying all those balloons for Vacation Bible School. We probably should have used it as a demonstration for a lesson on leprosy later in the week.
If I were trying to play the water balloon and colored t-shirt game again, I would skip the water balloons and just put Ritz dye in squirt guns, and let the little kids try to hit their helpers with that. I bet it would turn out much better. I would definitely not tie hundreds of water balloons again by hand. They now sell those nifty rapid-fill water balloon kits that fill lots of balloons at once and somehow tie them off as well. There’s no need for anyone to get a “flesh-eating virus,” even if it’s a fake virus, just for the fun of a water balloon fight these days.
Feel free to follow The House That Never Slumbers using the sharing buttons on the right sidebar if you would like to get updates. I plan to add other ideas that we’ve tried for youth group, Sunday School, and Vacation Bible School through the years.
Do you have any fun activities and ideas for the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors?
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